League of Legends Balance lessons to be learned

League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot Games. /
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Rather than nerf out the strongest team composition in Overwatch, Blizzard are opting to instead ban it from being played outright – a direct contradiction to how Riot balances League of Legends. Let’s take a look at how Riot’s fixed their problems and how Blizzard may be able to avoid the ban altogether!

Overwatch has been struggling to balance the three tank, three support composition – generally known as GOATS – for years now, which is a story that should sound familiar to all League of Legends players. However, instead of devising a clever way to nerf GOATS that allows other compositions to be played, Blizzard may instead simply outlaw it by mandating that teams play two DPS heroes, two tank heroes, and two support heroes in every composition.

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Many Overwatch pundits are citing this as a good thing, since the success of GOATS stifled a large majority of other compositions that teams could run. However, when you compare this situation to how Riot Games has handled its own degenerate strategies, you start to see just how unimaginative Overwatch’s balance team is. Let’s take a look at some of the lessons that Blizzard could learn from the problems that Riot’s fixed in League of Legends over the years.

#1: Change the Game Systems

Caitlyn. League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

After it became clear that teams absolutely could not leave their top laners alone in a 1v2 without getting dived by the enemy jungler and giving up first blood, most professional organizations adopted the 4v0 strategy. If a lane swap situation seemed likely, the top laner would simply follow their jungler during their first clear to soak XP, then join up with their duo lane to push a tower with no opposition. This lead to games with little PVP interaction, both during the initial push and later in the game due to the lack of outer towers to safely farm under.

Rather than outlaw the strategy, Riot Games found a different way to fix the problem: introduce first blood for towers as well as champions, and then give all towers bonus resistances in the early stages of the game EXCEPT for the bot lane towers. Any team attempting to force a lane swap would end up with their duo fruitlessly attempting to damage the reinforced tower in the top lane, while their opponents took the undefended bot lane tower for free and raked in the extra gold. Overnight, the 4v0 meta ended.

The Lesson: Change how the game works from a systemic perspective, and different strategies become available.